Know the Facts: Alcohol
What’s in a drink?
One standard drink is an alcoholic drink that has 1/2 ounce of pure alcohol. One standard drink is:
- One 12-ounce beer (a standard can or bottle)
- One 12-ounce hard seltzer or other malt drink (e.g. White Claw, Truly, Twisted Tea)
- Five ounces of wine
- One-and-a-half ounces of 80-proof liquor
What's Your BAC?
Blood alcohol content (BAC) is a measurement of how much alcohol is in your blood. Everyone's BAC is different, even if they have the same amount to drink.
Many things impact your BAC.
- How much you drink: The more drinks you have, the higher your BAC is going to be.
- How fast you drink: It's not just the quantity, but the time period. Most bodies can process no more than one drink per hour. Having several drinks in a short time will raise your BAC quickly.
- How much you weigh: A higher body weight means a lower BAC. There is more blood volume to dilute the alcohol you consume.
- Your sex assigned at birth: Bodies assigned female at birth don’t process alcohol at the same rate as those assigned male at birth. This is due to several factors including body fat percentage, differences in hormones, and differences in naturally-occurring stomach enzymes that break down alcohol.
- The amount of food you consume: Having food in your stomach means that alcohol will be absorbed more slowly, reducing your BAC.
- The mixer you choose: Mixers that have carbonation or artificial sweeteners, such as diet sodas and low-calorie sports drinks, will raise your BAC. Better choices are water and juice.
- Your medications: While it’s never a good idea to combine medications with alcohol, some will raise your BAC. Always pay attention to any prescription and over-the-counter medication warnings.
If your BAC gets too high, medical emergencies related to alcohol (alcohol poisoning) are a real possibility. Learn the symptoms and what you should do if this happens to a friend.
Check out possible BAC ranges for someone of your weight and sex, depending on how much you've had to drink. Or, pick up your personal BAC card from the Student Advocates for Wellness.
In the state of Massachusetts, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 or higher, or 0.02 or higher if you are under age 21.